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When We Speak : for solo cello and electroacoustic track

by Lisa Cheney (2016)

Work Overview

When We Speak for solo cello and electroacoustic track seeks to comment on broader issues surrounding gender inequality and these considerations on my compositional practice. Throughout the work the interweaving of many 'voices' is present in: my own musical language, the music and speech of respected Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho, the expression of the live cellist and their own literal voice. This, at times semi-improvised cello part, weaves its way through an atmospheric soundscape challenging and questioning the role of the live musician to blend in, fight against or rise above the sound world. The accompanying recorded musical sounds are extracted from Saariaho's own compositions, with special weight placed upon manipulated excerpts from the solo cello work Sept Papillons.

Work Details

Year: 2016

Instrumentation: Solo cello, fixed electroacoustic track (requires a stopwatch/phone or app to assist with time keeping).

Duration: 13 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Includes improvised 'musical response' passages based on given musical material.

Commission note: Commissioned by Samantha Wolf.. Commissioned by Samantha Wolf for the ‘This Will Be Our Reply’ 2016 International Women’s Day Concert.

First performance: by Gemma Tomlinson — 6 Mar 16. Melba Hall, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, VIC

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Saariaho, gender, feminism

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for/to
2018 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Instrumental Finalist Lisa Cheney


Resonate article: 2018 Art Music Awards - comments by judging panels by Australian Music Centre


When we speak


Performances of this work

29 Oct 2022: at When We Speak (Holy Trinity Anglican Church (Fortitude Valley)). Featuring Katherine Philp.

1 May 2021: at When We Speak (Metro Arts (Brisbane)). Featuring Katherine Philp.

21 Jun 2019: at Kontiki Racket (Paddington Town Hall).

27 May 2019: at Song for Dulka Warngiid (Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon). Featuring Syzygy Ensemble.

19 Jan 2019: at Tilde New Music Festival 2019 (Testing Grounds). Featuring Katherine Philp.

15 Dec 2018: at Absent Other (Bowen Terrace Studio). Featuring Katherine Philp.

4 Dec 2017: at Hilary Kleinig - Australian works for cello & electronics (Wheatsheaf Hotel). Featuring Hilary Kleinig.

9 Sep 2017: at She Speaks: Voice of Home (National Gallery of Victoria - The Ian Potter Centre).

2 Jul 17: VIPA Valencia International Performance Academy & Festival, Conservatorio Superior de Musica Joaquine Rodrigo, Valencia, Spain.. Featuring Christophe Mathias, Ensemble Interface.

6 Mar 16: Melba Hall, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, VIC. Featuring Gemma Tomlinson.

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